What is Politics?
A lack of knowledge doesn’t stop people from offering their ideas – however misguided they may be. It’s also too common to hear questions like “Why is it important to be involved in politics?” Or, “What is politics and why is it important?” That’s why I’m putting this together to offer a guide to learning and discussing the topic. That way, you can educate yourself on the topic an be able to speak to it and defend your position.
Why is political knowledge important?
The importance of politics boils down to the fact that it goes on, whether or not you’re involved. So, each of us must get an education on politics to be ready to understand and argue our positions on issues. That way, we can participate in the political process.
We must also understand the different types of politics. Societies are organized in many different ways, and the relation between government and politics and the influence government can have on it is crucial to an understanding of the body politic. If you are examples of politics in action would be presidential debates, discussions with friends, or protesting.
There are many other examples, however, and this isn’t an exhaustive list. What is important is that you engage in the discourse on these fundamental ideas. Here are some ideas on how to have these conversations without falling into fallacies:
Role of politics in government
Government is inherently intertwined in political affairs because we are dealing with how to live in a society. This requires some level of governance, and deciding how to govern ourselves is in the political domain. Thus, government is heavily involved in many political things such as lawmaking, military, adjudication as well as other things they shouldn’t be in like education.
The importance of politics in education has also become an issue. Government has entangled itself into the education system, and often for worse. But, there are ways to look at education from different angles and to find new ways of learning.
The Personal and Political
Politics pervades the entire culture, especially today. It is the expression of our personal beliefs and how we relate to one another. People hold their political beliefs very closely, which makes it hard to take criticisms. This podcast will dive deeper into this topic, and help you understand the connection between these two types of beliefs. Listen here:
This comes up in all aspects of your life. One example of politics in everyday life is the dinner table discussion or the dreaded Thanksgiving argument. We all know too well, especially since 2016, how volatile these debates can get. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
History of politics
The benefits of politics we see throughout history is it’s ability to create lasting civilizations. Throughout time, politics has been a source of stability. Despite periods of chaos and turmoil, it has generally allowed for society to have greater stability. The interesting thing is that the definition of politics by different authors has remained consistent over time.
What is the actual meaning of politics? Well, that is a question we have to go back into history to find. It comes from the Greek word politika, which means “affairs of state.” It originated with Aristotle’s work inquiring into the best way to manage a state. After that, it was Latinized and then brought in to the Romance languages like French, Italian, and Spanish. You can find out more about the etymology of politics here.
Political philosophy is something that has been around since the earliest law codes. But, it became a true art and science with the Greek philosophers. Some political philosophy examples include Plato’s Republic, Locke’s Two Treatises on Government, or Marx’s Das Kapital. Each of these examples shows a different political philosophy at work, but still represents this field of study.
Political philosophers are those people who approach the topic of politics from a more methodical point of view, searching for what is good rather than expedient. A true political philosopher doesn’t search for power, but truth.
“Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.”Aristotle
Aristotle’s Politics was incredibly influential in my political thought. I believe his ideas as well as how he lays them out is incredibly helpful for those learning more about politics. Listen below to this book review that will help you learn more about what Aristotle, one of the sharpest political philosophers had to say. This is a short summary of Aristotle’s Politics that should be helpful.
Importance of Political Philosophy
I think the importance of political philosophy is that it forces us to think critically about political problems. Instead of approaching politics with the partisan mentality, political philosophy pushes us to analyze the problem. I’ve even dipped my toes into the realm of politics and political philosophy. Here is an introduction to some work I’ve done on property rights in our Digital Age: political philosophy pdf. It is an extended essay on politics and institutions around property.
Different Political Philosophies
Many types of political philosophy have sprung up over the years. But the main types of thought we find today are Liberalism, Conservatism, Libertarianism, and Socialism.
The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise that the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.Niccolo Machiavelli
The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.-John Locke
Political Philosophy Today
Modern political philosophers include people like Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises, and Roger Scruton. Over the last 200 years, these thinkers have laid much of the groundwork for our discussions today. Much of their work is built on philosophers that came before them. But, they have brought their ideas into the 21st Centurey.
What is political theory and why study it? Well, it is an important way of putting politics in a framework that one can understand. It helps the student of politics incorporate their political views into a broader worldview.
Political science, however, is a newer field of study that focuses on the art of politics not as an art, but as the name would suggest, a science. It attempts to take the skill of the politician to gain support and reduce that down to the same level of observation as physics or biology. The fact is that it doesn’t work. Instead, it kills a living discipline and attempts to dissect it.
The rise of social and political philosophy came about largely in the “>19th century. Thinkers like Rawles, Marx, Darwin, and others attempted to bring science to the political life. And, they thought they could use sociological studies to do that. However, it was a failure because people are free to act, and aren’t as predictable as the deterministic parts of nature.
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